It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.
But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.
There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.
Alan Cohen
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
Groucho Marx
The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Past touch and sight and sound

What would you do ...  if you were walking along with your husband, deep in chat about something most likely meaningless, but both of you totally engrossed in your conversation.... the dog is dancing along , sniffing, checking out each tree, making sure to memorize the scent of everything that has been there before him, perhaps as far back in time as possible.

An elderly man is walking slowly with a huge old  looking German Shepherd, he walks to the car parked along the curve of the road, right where we are walking, opens the door and in one fluid leap, the dog is in the car and ready to go for a ride.
The man takes a little longer to get in and get going, then we are alone again.

But we aren't .. there are a few people in the park .. two women standing down along the walk , two men sitting up at the top of the steps by the statue, looking down into the park, where the two women are standing.
There are small dogs with the women so we walk a bit away from them, cutting up through the grass instead of taking the steps .... which would have taken us right past them .... and the body of the man lying on the walk.

He was just lying there. Not wounded looking, just lying there like he was asleep. 
In a sweatshirt and trousers and shoes and socks. Just lying there, no signs of visible life. 
Not breathing that we could tell. 
Pup suddenly stopped and noticed we were not paying attention to him, he decided to go see what was going on ... so I called him back and in mime, it was from a distance.. asked the woman if he was muerto ? and she made the same mime gesture back to me.
I looked around, no one seemed disturbed.
The two young men said he was drunk, just asleep.
But he didn't seem to be breathing .. lying on the walk , not the grass. 

I wanted to stay but we figured that someone with a better grasp of the situation and language had called and would take care of it .

It bothered me that I could not whip out my cell phone and dial 911. 
I could but then what ? 
They would find me and arrest me for bothering them with a prank call .. speaking gibberish.
There might possibly be an ordinance against calling 911 then speaking gibberish.
I don't want to try it and find out if I am right.

So we left the man lying on the sidewalk, with the women standing there, waiting.. and the two young men just watching.
It felt very odd to leave , like now that we have this thought that he could be dead, should we not stay too? But what for ?  
It was very unsettling and sad ... but then my husband said , he still may have just been asleep.

Past touch and sight and sound
not further to be found,
Now hopelessly under ground
Falls the remorseful day.

A E Housman


  1. Oh my, how awful. I've seen things like this before - folks on park benches who I stopped and stared at intently until I spotted the rise and fall of the chest to indicate they were still breathing.

    What makes it more difficult is you likely won't find out the end of the story - it will reamin open and unknown.

  2. This is a deeply affecting piece. I love the way you transition from the routine to the shocking. Beautifully written and thought provoking.

  3. Wow - I could not wait to get to the end to read "and then all of sudden he jumped up and walked away" - I am wishing that at some point he did....sadly we will never know!

    I hope the man rose to continue weaving through the very many challenges that life offers.


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